The Mark Childress page                     


I enjoy conversing with my readers.  These are the letters you folks have been writing in since I started this website, along with my very wordiest answers.  Enjoy!

If you want to ask a question now, please come join us in the FORUM.

Hey Mark, This was so unbelieva
ble that I just had to tell you. I ordered your book "Tender" but it didn't come so I forgot about it. Chances are it was an Out Of Print problem that's all. I was sad. Remember me telling you that I will read your book again? Well, It was my birthday today. I went to the mailbox and guess what was there: A Ballantine paperback first edition of "Tender". The bind is not broken. But wait there's more. When I opened the package using my scissors with the blue handles, I was surprised because I didn't recognize the cover. The red car on the front was new to me. I turned the first two pages only to discover, you autographed it! Wow! Someone must be smiling down on me. I know this wasn't your doing but I like the way it turned out anyway. However this came to be, I say thank you very much. Chris Caldon

Hey Chris, Happy Birthday to you! Well, I hope the book lives up to your re-reading expectations since you went to so much trouble to get it. A note to readers: ALL MY NOVELS ARE IN PRINT. (The children's books, no.) If a bookstore tells you it's out of print, they mean their distributor doesn't carry it. But all of them are most definitely in print. You can order any of my books on the "Buy my books" page of this website. Chris, thanks again for reading and writing in. Cheers, Mark C.

Mark, I finished "One Mississippi" last night and it's been with me all day. I don't know where to begin - what a fantastic, absolutely wonderful book that is! There's so much to say about the story, the characters, the era (I lived through those years and remember it all), the drama, the humor, all of it.
But what I am most enthralled with is the writing. I've worked with you at workshops twice now at Squaw and listening to you talk about writing and then reading your work gave me a thrill beyond words really - I just don't have the vocabulary at the moment to describe how I felt reading this book.
There were sentences that were so marvelous I'd have to read them over again and just sit with them, amazed at how you took a string of words and brought them to life in such an incredible way. I'm so jealous - that much I can tell you for sure. I want to write with life like that. I want my words to jump off the page and create a hologram in my room the way your words did for me. I saw things so clearly when you described them, the detail and imagery was amazing.
Ok, I'm gushing now. But what can I say? I loved this book. Not just for the marvelous story but for the wonderful writing. You are truly gifted. And I know the work involved. I know the hours of clacking on the keyboard it took to get this novel written, which inspires me all the more.
I am encouraging everyone to read this book. And if you didnt live through the 70's relish reading this, because it really gives you a wonderful taste of that era. And be a close reader, let those sentences wash over you - taste them, delight in them! Thanks Mark. Keep writing!!! Claudia Errington

Dear Claudia, Thank you so much for your incredibly generous letter. That book took me eight years to write ... and when I get a letter like yours, it makes it all seem worthwhile. Best of luck with your own work - and I hope I'll be seeing you up at SCVW again soon. Cheers, Mark C.


Hello Mark, first of all I wanted to ask you a question. It may be a stupid question but I'll ask anyway, what is "Georgia Bottoms" about? I just get tickled saying that. lol. :-) You could do a book for every state in the union. They all have them you know. (smile)
With that said:This year is 2009 and it's been a long time since I've read the book "Tender". It left a lasting impression on my soul. It is a book I will never forget. At one point, while reading your book, I had to sit it down because it made me cry. You stirred up feelings I didn't know were there. Mark you have left your literary footprint on the world with "Tender". I'm baffled as to why it hasn't been made into a movie. Now that the movie "Ray" was such a success, it leaves everything wide open for "Tender". According the internet, the book is out of print. When a book is as good as "Tender" it doesn't matter if it's in print or not. That's how you know when you have a good one. I'm going to read your book again because I want to see the world from your characters eyes. I want to feel what he feels, all over again. Chris Caldon

Dear Chris, Thanks so much for writing to me. There are no stupid questions, only stupid Republicans. I just made that one up. Anyway, I'm glad the title tickled you ... it's just a working title and may change. I am very superstitious about talking about a novel while I am writing it. It colors it, somehow, to discuss in public. I am delighted you liked "Tender." It was a wonderful book to write, although I confess that I played Elvis' music for more than two years straight and it kind of put me off it for awhile. Not sure why Hollywood didn't pick that one up, but tomorrow, as the lady says, is another day. Thanks for reading, and writing in. Cheers, Mark C.


Hiya! Remember me? You might remember me better as "magicmardi" . As you might remember, I always intended to move to New Orleans for awhile......well, that never happened.....a day before I was suppose to leave, my son was diagnosed with the big "C". No worries....That was a year ago and now he has finished his treatments and is absolutely fine now and very involved with The Lance Armstrong Foundation. At any rate, I am visiting NOLA again in about 2 weeks....I can't ever stay away for too long. I am so happy about your new book...can't wait!! Just joined your Facebook page, too. Wanted to let you know that you have inspired me to write my own novel!!! I have 14 chapters down (first draft) and I'm enjoying the process. Murder, mayhem and a bit of romance.... It might be just crapola fiction or ??? (I picture Brad Pitt playing Lafitte in the movie, and joining me when Oprah chooses my bestselling novel for her bookclub!) Thanks for the inspiration!
Dear Mardi, Hi and thanks for catching me up on all your news! I am sorry to hear your son went through that, but delighted he is better now. Also tickled to know I helped inspire you to write fiction. Glad you're having fun and I am wishing you the very best of luck with it. Hope you got to visit New Orleans ... I spent the month of Feb. there, away from my home computer, which is why it has taken me awhile to add your letter to the page. Keep writing! cheers, Mark C.


Hi Mark, As an African-American with roots in Mississippi who is currently reading your novel One Mississippi, I thought you might find this interesting( if you hadn't already heard about it). While watching CNN on MLK day I saw a segment about this film.
This film/documentary premiered at the Sundance film festival this year. The film is about a school in Mississippi that just recently had its first integrated prom. Sincerely, Brikti W.

Dear Brikti, Thanks very much for writing to me and letting me know about the film. I'll try to get hold of a copy and take a look. I find it amazing and appalling that there are still high schools in Mississippi that have segregated proms, thirty years after the events I was writing about in "One Mississippi." But I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. Anyway thanks a lot for reading and for letting me know about this. Cheers, Mark C.

Hi Mark,
You are my favorite author!!!! I love Fannie Flagg too. I can identify with both of you. I was born and raised in Alabama. Sometimes it does make one feel like a "misfit" considering that we have our own language and code of ethics that others don't understand.
"Crazy in Alabama" was my favorite book and I am watching the movie tonight (for the 11th time) because my dear friends Bob and Enrique from Orlando bought me the DVD for Christmas. (I don't think I could survive without my gay best friends....they are more reliable than my blood family ( I was raised by a female Nazi...seriously, my mother is German and has been evil since my birth). LOL!!!
I too am a writer and have been told that my work is similar to yours and Fannie's which is the biggest compliment on earth to me. Even Teddy Zee of Paramount liked my first screenplay. He loved the "southern thing" and pushed me to write more screenplays geared for southern actors.
I just wanted to take a break from the movie right now to tell you how much I appreciate your talent and how it has always moved me. Thank God for you!!!!
Have a very happy NEW YEAR!!!! Much gratitude...your big fan, Sylvia A.

Hi Sylvia, Thank you so much for writing and for your enthusiastic reading. I am happy you like the movie, too ... and I wish you the very best of luck with your own work. Cheers, Mark C.


Hey Mark,
I just finished "One Mississippi" last night, and immediately felt compelled to write. Never has a book moved me so very much. James Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room", which had previously been my all-time favorite book, has just been replaced by yours. I have never laughed so hard, cried so much, or felt more connected to a literary character than the ones in your book. Thank you for a read that I simply couldn't put down.

I was reading through some of the other letters on your website, and someone else had asked if "One Mississippi" could ever potentially be made into a film. That was my first thought after closing the book last night, was "Wow, what a film that would make." I sincerely hope something becomes of it.
I have to ask: if you were to continue the story, what do you think became of "Skippy"? Even though he claims several times that him and Tim were just friends, they certainly did -- at least in my interpretation -- seem to behave like a "couple" despite Musgrove's interest in Arnita. Does Daniel turn out to be gay? Does he ever recover from the trauma he experienced inside Minor High?
The part of the book that I absolutely lost it and the tears came, was Tim's final letter to Skippy -- specifically the line "I didn't want three billion people, Skip. Just you. Love, T." I started to think about how Skip not only had to recover from the emotional trauma of the massacre, but also with facing life without Tim. What a strange paradox to ponder. Seriously--it's driven me nuts all day.
I am an aspiring writer, currently working on my first book. I haven't titled it yet, but it is about a young man in high school who falls in love with a Baptist preacher's son -- and the mayhem that it brings.
Best wishes to you, and thanks again for writing such a marvelous book. I absolutely loved it. -- Dan. Lincoln, NE

Hey Dan, I love "Giovanni's Room" too and am greatly honored to be in such esteemed company in your opinion. Thanks so much for really getting into it. Your letter made my day. I will look forward to reading your book one day, and trust you will keep me apprised of its progress.

The questions you ask are excellent, and each of them has more than one answer. But I think all the answers are there in the book, and that you have happened upon several interesting ones. Part of what I was trying to do in that book was work with different characters' versions of events, so that you as a reader are challenged to decide whom to believe. (Like life!)

As far as what happens to the characters after the story ... that is again your choice as the reader to decide. I have given you clues to what I think, but as Borges proved, the authorial voice is just one opinion.... thanks again for your most generous reponse. Cheers, Mark C.

I am just about finished with Crazy in Alabama. I love this book. I don't want it to end. I am actually NOT in a hurry to finish it...Seriously, I don't want it to end. That's weird, huh?
Lucille kind of reminds me of me. Only I have no aspirations of killing anyone to achieve goals, nor do I believe anyone stands in my way of what I want. I do, however, believe I was destined for fame for some reason. I just am a little perplexed as to how someone goes from here to HOLLYWOOD! Fascinating to me are glitzy types, royals, and of course, the Kennedy family. Perhaps I'm yearning for what I had in another life.
Oh well. I did have one particular question, and it's not even about Lucille. It's about the speech from Martin Luther King. Now, as a writer, did you create that speech based on the time frame this was written about? Or did you use some/all of a speech he actually gave. I guess I could google it, but it would be much more interesting to hear it from you.
I lived in Birmingham for about 7 years after graduating college (ECU.) I majored in English, recieved a Bachelor's. I tell everyone I did my"growing up" in Birmingham I was actually raised in the Outer Banks area of NC. I had to grow up once I got to B'ham. I was 12 hours away from home and knew nobody! I miss that place. I always tell folks, in my humble opinion, that it's the country's best kept secret. Seriously, Birmingham is a GREAT place to live.
Anyway, before I start rambling, I probably need to get going. Please write back when you get a moment.
I have added you on MySpace. My profile is "Gimme Those Grapes."
Take care :)

Hey Carla, Thanks for writing to me. I am tickled that you are enjoying "Crazy" and that you are slowing down to make it last longer. (Used to do that with Tootsie Pops). In answer to your question, I read a whole book of MLK's magnificent speeches and then wrote my own. I know that's a pretentious thing to do, but his speech had to fit the particulars of my (fictional) town, so I wanted to do it right! Again, thanks for reading. Cheers, Mark C.


Dear Mark, I thoroughly enjoyed your books and look forward to reading the new one when you finish. As an Arkansan I can relate to the Southern writing and the time periods. They are hilarious. I also recommend them to everyone that wants a good book. Kathleen Wallace

Dear Kathleen, Thank you so much for writing in, and for reading my work. I really do enjoy hearing from my readers. I have spent a bit of time in Arkansas - there were some Childress cousins who lived in the south central part of the state - and can assure other readers that it is every bit as Southern as Alabama, and in much the same ways. Thanks again for your kind words. Cheers, Mark C.


Dear Mark, I am so impressed you have a place where I can send an email to you...let alone you answer it...bonus! I recently purchased Crazy in Alabama on tape after it was retired from our local library. I am a huge book on tape/cd fan and may I say just how wonderful it is that you read this yourself. Thank you =D I love your reading (and very much writing) style. I enjoyed listening to your book in my car. I couldn't wait each day to drive and hear another juicy tidbit of this story. I am thrilled you wrote the screen play for the movie and I can't wait to rent the film. Most of all I am excited to find a new author to enjoy in my journey. Your writing puts me right in with the characters in the story. For example, I too was a kid in the 60's and remember the evening news with Walter Cronkite and all that was happening in the south, George Wallace making speeches, MLK and RFK being was a crazy time for our country. I appreciate that you put such vivid detail in and captured a moment of that particular time of craziness in your book. A tidbit of my life at that time...I remember being 12 and talking to my Mom about a "colored" friend I was in band with. I said, "I like Joselyn as my friend" and my Mom said, "she is a sweet girl" and I asked "but she can't come spend the night at our house can she?" and she said "No, she can't." It's like it was understood that the whites lived on one part of town and the blacks lived in another and only the 2 shall meet at school, or band in my case. Seems unthinkable that even occurred now-a-days. Thanks Mark, I look forward to enjoying your other books. Karen J., Bradenton, Florida

Hey Karen, Thanks so much for writing to me, and for listening to me. I was delighted when Harper Audio asked me to do the (abridged) audio of "Crazy," and I was not so delighted when they selected an actor to record the unabridged version without even asking me. It seems that the fashion in audio these days is for experienced audio actors to do the readings, rather than the author. I'm really glad that "Crazy" rang a bell with you and resonated with your own experiences at that time. Your Mom probably felt the restrictions were wrong, too … but it was hard for individuals to rebel against a whole society's ways. For me, the character of Uncle Dove represents all those Good White People who went along with our apartheid system because, as he says, "it ain't fair. It's just the way things are." Thank God there were people who stood up against it. Anyway, thanks again for writing, and for reading (listening). Cheers, Mark C.


Hi Mark, This is your fellow Arrow, Linda McLemore. Carol and I both now live in Edmond, OK. We were looking through the Clinton High School Alumni webpage and came across the FAMOUS ARROWS page. We already knew you were famous, but I did not know about Wyatt. It is really great to see how well you and Wyatt Waters are doing!

Well, hey Linda! It is certainly great to hear a voice from the past. Thank you so much for writing in. I don't know about "famous," but I am certainly delighted to be included on that webpage with such talented Arrows as Lance Bass, Barry Hannah, and our own Wyatt Waters! If you write in again let me know how you settled in Edmond, which is a long way from Missippi. Send a hug to Carol and one for you, too. Cheers, Mark C

 Hey Mark... I wrote you once before about getting started in writing... I did get into SCAD in Atlanta... But I was diagnosed with lymes disease..well I am still writting...I have taken some classes at Emory..but when I loved in NYC and LA i really got the writing bug... What my idea is well...its really something great... its basically about the girls in atlanta..we call them the Buckhead Betty's..they are a life of their own..but i have the inside scoop to their upper class life...basically not so perfect..but I think that the book I want to write would be fantastic!!! And I have a great title... I would really like for you to give me some tips on researching and bascially starting it... If you could I wouls really be so thankful... but you may remember my grandfather Ted Childress... our family is from Bama and Indiana...but again...I would be so thankful for your input!

Hey Robin, Thanks for writing in. I don't really have any advice on that, but I would recommend you read Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird" and also get a book called "The Writer's Market," which has lots of great information about how to get started. I don't actually recognize the names of the folks in your family - there are more Childresses scattered around than you would believe! But it's always nice to hear from another one. Good luck with your book. Cheers, Mark C.


Hi Mark! Love your books! My husband and I met you at the Cullman library a little over a year ago- I was the very pregnant lady in the first row. I have always enjoyed your books, because I grew up in a funeral home, was a tour guide at Sun Records in Memphis, and grew up in Mississippi. You autographed "One Mississippi" for us to give to our Moms on Mother's Day. Both of them loved the book. The main reason I'm dropping you a line today is to give you a link to a story in the Memphis Commercial Appeal. The story is about allegations of racism in Monroeville. I thought you may want to check it out, and I hope the link works. Keep up the great work, we're in the process of getting all your kids' books for the little girl, who was born not long after you stopped in Cullman. Thanks again for everything, Mark - Sincerely, Dallas Nicholson.

Hey Dallas, So nice of you to write. I really enjoyed that rainy/sunny Sunday in Cullman. I was surprised by the size of the crowd and ... well, not surprised, but awfully pleased how hospitable everybody was. I'm glad my writing has impacted you in some personal ways and I really appreciate your giving my book to your moms. Also, congratulations on the birth of the baby girl. As to this lawsuit in Monroeville, all I know is what I read ... and although I agree that such allegations will automatically get more attention in Monroeville than elsewhere, I hope the courts will tell us who's telling the truth here. If there's any lesson we can take from Miss Lee's book, it is that we should reserve judgment until we understand the facts. Racism still exists everywhere, including and maybe even especially in Alabama ... how could it not? Still, I also know that there are generally at least two sides to every story. Cheers, Mark C.


Hi Mark, you probably don't remember me but I was the sports editor of the Clinton High School paper, the "Target" during the 1972-73 school year. I remember you being in my Journalism class with Judy O'Neal and wanted to congratulate you on your literary success. I came across your name on the CHS Alumni Association website and thought I'd leave you a note. Always glad to see former Arrows doing so well! Regards, Nash Nunnery, Class of '73

Hey Nash, Always good to hear from a former Arrow! I do remember you ... but I didn't take Journalism at CHS. I took senior English from Judy O'Neal. Maybe that's the class you remember? I thought my brother Alan took Journalism and was on the staff of the Target, but he reminds me that he was too busy founding the award-winning "Skyline Weekly Star," a small-circulation weekly that was very influential. At least if you lived on our street. You'll be glad to know he's a law professor who has continued his flirtation with a journalism career with an excellent blog on legal-professional issues. I will post a link in my link-list at right ... Thanks for your congrats and for writing in - cheers! Mark C.


hey mark - was just browsing your website here after finishing "one mississippi". i moved to southern louisiana from germany about a year ago. and i just felt like writing you that moving and living down here was/is indeed an exprience. :-) reading your novel it was nice to read that other "people" apparently feel that way, too. every time my father would call from overseas this past week i'd let him know what was going on in daniel musgrove's life as we spoke. my father is now reading "abgebrannt in mississippi". :-) great book but i'm sure you know that already! - julia

Hi Mark, I am in the process of glancing through back issue magazines and happened onto your article "Our Traveling Christmas" in the '92 Southern Living. Several things caught my interest: Your home state of Ohio, your road trips as a child that so reminded me of our own family trips, and then finaly, your name. By any chance did you attend East Dayton Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio? Our family did untill we moved to Florida in 1971. I would have graduated from Beavercreek H.S. in 1974. I feel like I knew you many moons ago. I'd love to hear from you if any of this jives with you. And last but not least, I really enjoyed reading of your childhood memories! Sincerely, Kim Linn (Coyle)

Hi Kim, Thanks for writing in. I'm glad you enjoyed that piece of nostalgia. I don't think that's me you're thinking of - we lived in Kettering and attended a Presbyterian church in those days. But it sounds as if we had a lot in common, and I'm happy to know I touched a chord. Cheers, Mark C.


Hello, I'm a teenager who had 'One Mississipi' recommended to her and even though it's over 30 years since the book was set, you've really captured exactly what high school is. It was an amazingly beautiful book and I really felt as if I knew Tim.

Hi Anon, Thanks so much for writing. Naturally I am happy that people want to read my book - but especially happy when a teenager reads and likes it. I was hoping this would be one of those books that would appeal across generational lines. Sad to note that high school hasn't changed that much in the vast amount of time I've been out of it. But again, thanks so much for reading, and writing to me - your words mean a lot. Cheers, Mark C.


Hi Mark, I am currently just about to finish your book .... One Mississippi. Never read anything of yours before. Thoroughly enjoying it. I will continue to look for your books. I didn't know what I was missing. You get asked a lot I'm sure but I was wondering if I could get your autograph. I'm a new fan. Thank you very much. Michael Conklin

Hey Michael, I'm delighted you are enjoying the book and I thank you for reading it. As you can see, there are plenty of other books I've written to keep you busy, if you feel so moved. If you'd like that autograph, send me an email (see the "email me" link to the right) and I will send you an address to send the self-addressed, stamped envelope in which I'll send you your autograph. Thanks! Best, Mark C.


Having seen the screen production of "Crazy in Alabama," I was intrigued by the story enough to pick up your book when I ran across it in the bookstore and thumb through the first couple of pages. If mentioned in the film, I missed its beginning being set in Pigeon Creek, Alabama. Though somewhat obscure, this is an important place in our family history. I believe they enjoyed some prominence in the community, back when there was one. We still gather there at Sardis Baptist Church, almost the only remaining structure, every Mothers Day since about 1954. You can see a picture of this place as well as some of our family history on the website at I have been curious since seeing your book about how and why you chose "Pigeon Creek" for the initial setting in your story. I've had the same questions about the film "Sweet Home Alabama," set almost entirely in Pigeon Creek, although obviously not filmed there. I even wondered if they got the idea from you. I'd appreciate any answer you can offer. I can only offer an invitation to a great traditional dinner on the grounds, complete with fried chicken, sweet tea, and shade trees. Come any Mothers Day about 11:00! Thanks, Dan Shell

Hey Dan, Thanks for writing. It's always nice to hear from home folks. When "Crazy in Alabama" came out I heard from a lot of folks in the real "Industry," which I believe is in the same part of Butler County as your community of Pigeon Creek. I confess to wondering the same thing when "Sweet Home Alabama" came out and pondered if it was meant as an homage to my book. (Or not!) My grandmother's place was in the more northern part of the county, between Greenville and Ft. Deposit, fairly near the community of Spring Creek, but between two of the top forks of Pigeon Creek itself, so in our family the area was always called "Pigeon Creek." Thanks for the invite to dinner-on-the-ground ... if I find myself in your neighborhood on Mother's Day I could definitely use some of that sweet tea. Cheers, Mark C.


I just finished "One Mississippi" Your writing style is awesome. I loved the book except for one thing: (spoiler) Karen in Boston

Dear Karen, Thanks for writing in. I removed part of your question because it is a "spoiler" for those who haven't read the book yet. In answer to your question, there are more of "those characters" than just two ... but you do have to read between the lines. Cheers, Mark C.

Hi, I'm glad you took out part of the question. I wasn't thinking about spoiling part of the book. I did enjoy reading the story. The book was passed along to me by one of my co-workers. We have the same taste in books. Yes, there are more of those types of characters. The 2 that I mentioned totally jumped out at me. Thank you for answering my concerns. :) Karen in Boston

Hey Karen, I would just add that if any fault is laid on anything for the events in the story, it is less with any of these individuals and maybe more with the repressiveness of the society in which they live. In other words, their lack of freedom forces them to desperate measures. Thanks again for reading, and writing in. Cheers, Mark C.


Hi Mark, Just wanted to let you know that One Mississippi has now replaced Crazy in Alabama as my favorite book of all time. I actually listened to the audiobook of One Mississippi and I just want to say what an amazing job narrator Jeff Woodman did. He is absolutely the voice of Daniel Musgrove. I loved it and didn't want it to end. Oh, and one more thing, Mark. Are there any plans for a movie for One Mississippi? Louise, in Memphis.

Hey Louise, Nice to hear from a Memphian. (I have loved Memphis since I wrote Tender.)) Thank you so much for writing me. SO many people have said "Well, Crazy in Alabama is still my favorite" so I am delighted to hear you say you like the newer one more. One does like to hope that one is improving. I agree with you about Jeff's reading. I have my own plans to make a movie of One Mississippi but so far no one in Hollywood has shared them with me. Cheers, Mark C.


Get back to your blog! xoxoxo expat princess

Hey, Expat Princess, I really appreciate the sentiment but I am so busy with the new novel that I just lost the will to post over there. I imagine I will have more to say if we can ever get this Dem nomination sorted out. Thanks, Mark C.


Hello, I'm a teacher and I doubt that this message will actually be received by you. For whom ever is listening. I would like to use this movie as an educational tool, not just for desegregation, but linking it to social darwinism and the desensitizations of individuals; such as the homeless and the poor. However, unfortunately, they are the same focus and being segregated from education today due to NCLB. As much as I love Melanie Griffith, I was hoping that I could get a condensed version focusing on the boycott at the pool, the funeral march, memorial at the pool, and the father and lucille in jail. As a teacher, I have never seen another movie that is equally motivated by protecting family on two very separate issues. Both are actually linked by the creation of two separate amendments for freedom and one shared by rights that, as of yet, have not gained equality in education or social worth. I have actually never asked for something like before. Thank you for reading this. Don't worry about responding. I'm a teacher so I'll make due. Karen

Dear Karen, Hey, thanks for writing. And believe it or not, I do read and answer all the comments on this site, although it sometimes takes me a few days. I am delighted that you like "Crazy in Alabama" and want to use it as a teaching tool. I can see that would be an interesting class, because you have some good points to make, and I think it's interesting you can relate it to other issues today. There isn't actually a "condensed version" as you mention, but it would be very easy thanks to the miracle of DVD (which has "chapter breaks") for you to create your own. All you'd have to do is screen just those scenes dealing with the issues you raise, skipping between chapters on your remote. If you try this experiment, do write me back and let me know how it went. And once again, thank you for reading. Cheers, Mark C.


Hi Mark, I run a book discussion at my local library, have been doing so for a few years now. We are planning to read "One Mississippi" in June or July and I was wondering if you would be interested in joining us in a discussion via phone with us? I love your novels and I think it would be a fun, and wonderful to hear it "straight from the horses mouth" how, what, and why! Would love to hear back from you, and keep up the great work! Maria Pia

Hi Maria, I am very happy to talk with book groups ... I've learned a lot about my books from those discussions. I'll contact you at the email address you provided, and hope we can work out a date. And thanks! Cheers, Mark C.


Hi Mark, Just finished One Mississippi, it was hilarious. Great job. As a teen growing up in the seventies I can definitely relate. Looking forward to reading your other stuff. Keep up the good work. Maria Ciletti Niles, Ohio

Hi Maria, Thanks for reading the book and for writing in to tell me about it. I've been very pleased that people with disparate high school experiences find a lot to relate to in my story. Keep reading! Cheers, Mark C.


Hi Mark, Years ago you were signing books in Oxford, Alabama. Your latest book at that time was "Gone for Good." Having read everything of yours I could find at that time, I cherished my autographed copy. Then I loaned it to a reliable friend. (I had several co-workers that I trusted to return books) Months later I went looking for "Gone for Good." I always re-read the good stuff. I couldn't find it. I couldn't remember to whom I had loaned it. I decided it was truly "Gone for Good..." Flash forward several years: I am sitting at my desk working when C. walks in and hands me "Gone for Good." She said, "I was cleaning my house and found this." I politely thanked her for returning it. I no longer loan out autographed copies, too risky. Yes, I started reading it again at lunch that day. Awesome. I loved it. I am waiting for the movie version...nah, it couldn't be as good as the movie in my head. Peace to you Gene Black

Hey Gene, I'm glad that the book came back to you. I put a moratorium on loaning out books a few years ago for the reasons you cite here. As a matter of fact, I found a few that I had borrowed and failed to return, too. So now, if a friend covets a book of mine, I order them up a copy and keep mine - that way they win, I win, and the author wins! Anyway I am tickled that you like "Gone for Good," as it is not appreciated that widely but is one of my own favorites. Thanks again for writing me. Cheers, Mark C.


Hi Mark. We hosted your Crazy event at the Alabama Theater. Hope we can be in touch. Still loving your work and want to catch up. Cheers, Pat

Hey Pat, I had such a wonderful time at that event. It was truly an unforgettable night. My family and I often check out the pictures of ourselves riding in all those cool vintage convertibles and can hardly believe it really happened. Anyway, thanks for what you did back then, and for reading along. Hope our paths will cross soon. Cheers, Mark C.


Hello Mark, I was born in Monroeville, Alabama too. On April 24, 1957. I am a relative of Cynthia Tucker and Marva Collins. I have since moved many times and now have a Master's in Nursing. At one time I even taught at Kent State University. Now, I know we have nothing in common but I was wondering if you were born in the old Monroe County Hospital like I was and on what date. Great works by the way, Jacquelyn Lambert-Davis

Hey Jacquelyn, Thank you so much for writing to me. Always nice to meet kin of two of the women I most admire - Ms. Tucker and Ms. Collins. Let me say that I admire your works, too ... nurses are the unsung heroes of our society. They do almost everything doctors do, backwards and in white heels! So in fact we do have something in common - we like nurses. Now, the truth is that you did warm up that birthin' cradle at the old Monroe Co. Hospital, and I was born in the same year as you, on September 21. Thanks for reading and I hope our paths will cross sometime. Cheers, Mark C.


Hey Mark, Here's a story for you. I lived across the street from you when you were very young--one of the McBrooms. Our dog, Trudy, had thirteen puppies (two of them died at birth) and we gave them away to lots of people. One of those people was Mollie McSherry, from San Rae Drive,one of your friends. I met Mollie in Milford, Ohio when our kids started dating. My son, Shawn Ford, was a soccer player, and Mollie's daughter, Megan, also played soccer and stayed after her game to see Shawn play. Mollie and I hung out together at the games. One day, we were talking about our past and our dogs, and Mollie said that her first dog was a basset/collie mix. I said,"Wow, that's wierd, we had a basset hound that was impregnated by a collie. Boy were those puppies cute!" I said, "Hey, you grew up in Dayton, right?" and we looked at each other and she said, "Yes, my parents were friends with some people in Kettering and we were over there and the family across the street had puppies, so we went over to look at them." Mollie remembers the girls with the blonde hair and tells me about that. And then, we look at each other and she says, "Yeah, we were visiting the Childresses..." and I interrupted, "You mean Rory, Mark and Alan?" and we couldn't believe it! Mollie had gotten one of our puppies, oh those many years ago! Anyway, boy did the memories start flowing. I remember you and your brothers and how we used to play "house" in your garage. Rory and I were the parents, and you and Gail were the kids, and Alan and my brother Brian were the "pets". We had so much fun when we were kids, I really feel lucky to have had such a great childhood. Well, this is a shot in the dark to talk to you, but Mollie and I are still great friends and we now and then talk about this odd event. Tonight we "googled" your name and, well it was Mollie's idea, and we hope some day we can get together and close the loop. I'm Chris McBroom. My Mom and Dad, Jeanette and Grant McBroom are still around and I have told them about the strange connection our families have. Mollie and I live in Milford, Ohio. I bet you remember us too. Mollie has a photo of herself and you with your birthday crowns on, sitting on a picnic table. We look forward to hearing from you! Chris and Mollie

Well hey, Chris, hey Mollie. This is indeed a blast from the past. Of course I remember you all. Would love to exchange an email with you -- please click on the "Email me" link in the column of links to the right, and tell me how to write you back. Cheers, Mark C.


Hi Mark, My wife and I are a couple of northerners who throughly enjoyed "One Mississippi". I just finished "Crazy in Alabama" and was blown away by your description and wicked humor. I was so moved, I might mow with protective lenses this summer. A couple of questions, if I may: *Regarding One Mississippi, has Cher contacted you about your portrayal of her (amd Sonny Bono) and were you worried she may not approve? *In Crazy in Alabama, do you mind shedding some light on what happened to the cop that Lucille left behind? Scott Goldstein Haddon Heights, New Jersey

Hi Scott, I am glad that as self-declared Yankees you were able to get through these Southern tomes. I think those lenses are an excellent idea. As to your question #1, no, haven't heard a word from Cher, although I thought I might after the NYTimes ran an illustration with their review of her smoking a big ol' fatty. Not a word! And I didn't worry about her approval. She is a public figure and thus considered fair game for fictional portrayals. (I thought she came off rather well; I love her just like Daniel, by the way.) As for question #2: like all the intentionally unanswered questions in all my books, I have to leave that to you, the reader, to decide. Whichever answer you prefer is probably right. Cheers, Mark C.


Joshua and the Big Bad Blue Crabs is mine and my daughter's favorite book to read at night time! I love reading it to her! Being born and raised in the south it is so easy to lay on the southern drawl while reading the is so much fun! We really love your books and can't wait for you to do more children's books. Of course I love your adult fiction as well...but to me Joshua takes the pie:;) Thanks! Niki B.

Hey Niki,
Well I am just delighted to know that you and your daughter are enjoying that very crabby tale. Its prequel, "Joshua and Bigtooth," might appeal to you too ... it's out of print now, but you can find it at and other used-book outlets. Thanks so much for writing in. Cheers, Mark C.


I just finished "One Mississippi" It was so wonderful! I ordered every one of your books I could from the library! I just started "Tender" Keep the books rolling. New fan- Dana

Dear Dana, Thanks so much for reading it, and I am glad you liked it. Let me know what you think about the others. Cheers, Mark C.


Mark - 1975 Clinton graduate. I'm reading One Mississippi now and am really enjoying it. It's nice recognizing places from high school days and people we both attended high school with. Mark Gentry

Hey Mark, It is always great to hear from a fellow Marching Arrow. I'll look forward to hearing what you think about the book when you're through. I have definitively learned that CHS grads prefer paperbacks, because I have heard from a TON of classmates since the p'back came out. Cheers, Mark C.


I wrote a song about Rockin Dopsy! how do i find his web site & contact him? Thanks, Bruce re; Rockin Dopsy tune please contact me by

Hi Bruce, Hey sorry but although I admire the work of Rockin' Dopsy I have not one better idea than you how to go about finding him. I would suggest Google but I guess you've already been there...Anyway good luck and let me know if you find him. Cheers, Mark C.


Hey Mark - 1979 Clinton graduate. Love the books! Sharon

Howdy Sharon, Always great to hear from another Arrow. I really appreciate your reading and writing in to tell me about it. I hope our paths will cross next time I'm in town. Thanks. Cheers, Mark C.


Mark, hope your holiday season is keeping you away from this site. Oddly, I was buzzin' around looking for a different destination when I thought of CR. Know you spent time there, and was curious as to your take on the region best suited to a gringo wanting to spend a month or so. Got your book, saving it for a rainy day. Peace, jack smith

Hey, Jack, Well, the Costa Rica that I knew and loved has been overrun by gringos like myself. But if you get off the beaten track you can still find the pura vida. If I were you, I would pick a small beach town on the Pacific side and do day trips to the rest of the countyr from there. Check out "Gone for Good" while lying in a hammock; that is state dependent fiction. I envy you the thought of that month.... Cheers, Mark C.


Hi Mark, I was checking out vacation ideas in Ecuador, which led to thoughts of Panama, and then on to Costa Rica. How are you? Raad and I have been in Pensacola since 2000. I got back into the news biz, then left July 2006 to go out on my own. Would love to establish contact with you. Here's the link to my website: Would love to hear from you! Karena

Hey Darlin, Great to hear from you, I've been wondering where you at. Will contact you when I'm back from this trip. Cheers, Mark C.


hey i'm desperate to get hold of one mississippi and live in the uk. please please please could you tell me where i can buy it from. with thanks

Howdy, So sorry you've been driven to the desperate edge of reason. Try this link:
That should help you - let me know what you think about the book. Cheers, Mark C.


Just read Crazy in Alabama and really liked it, overall. There is a lot of wit and charm and you really nailed the whole Southern theme. The only thing hard to swallow was Lucille carrying around a severed head, all for shock value--a bit over the top, if you don't mind me saying so. A good yarn, otherwise. Best, David P.

Hey David, Glad you read and liked it. If you'd met some of the fans of this book I've met on book tours, you might not find Lucille's actions all that far-fetched. (Besides, if the head had ever shut up, she might have left it behind.) Thanks for reading! Cheers, Mark C.


Mark, Just ordered "One Mississippi." We have all the others including the Joshua books for the kids. My fave is still the first--love that magically realism. Speaking of kids... our darling girl happens to be a third year at UVa! How interesting to learn that Hoke is working there. You may not remember Joy but she remembers the crazy man who drew all over her 8 year old hand at a bookstore in Montgomery (Charles' book tour). Sending our best. Kathy (and Ralph) from the T'Town Days

Hi Kathy, The coolest thing about this website is hearing from old friends. Hey! As we used to say down there in Tuscaloosa. Congratulations on having a girl old enough to be acing 'em up in Charlottesville! Now was it Charles who drew on Joy's hand? Anyway, great to hear from you ... football season definitely makes me feel a bit nostalgic for those great weekends and the parties and all the friends. Stay in touch! All best, Mark C.


Hey Mark, I had to read Crazy in Alabama for a class at school and just finished it. It was great! I've never read the book but I have seen parts of the movie, even though it's been a while. Anyway, I wanted to tell you that you did a great job with the book. :)

Hey Anon! Thank you for writing in, and for suffering through your teacher's assignment. Would you please your teacher how much I appreciate she or he assigning my book to your class? So glad you liked it - let me know what you think of 'em, if you check out any of the other books. Cheers, Mark C.


I was lucky enough to see you at this years' (07)Alabama Bound. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to speak. And it was a neat moment when I was able see you read from One Mississippi. I was so into the story - I did not want you to stop reading. I am embarassed to say that I wanted to speak to you but the friend I was with convinced me that unless I was buying your book you did not want to speak to "fans". Well, if I had not listened - I would have said this - I love to read your writings. You have an amazing gift, and a wonderful voice. I hope to one day see some of my writings published. When I achieve that goal I will take a cue from you and Fannie Flagg. I will embrace my Southerness rather than apologize for it. You make me proud to be Southern. Thank you for being "my" voice. Maggie Beth

Hey Maggie Beth, I'm sure that your friend meant well but I wish you had followed your instinct and say Hey. Next time, promise me you'll come up and say hello. I love to meet my readers. I don't care whether you buy the book or not, honestly. I am just pleased if you read it. I have had times when I couldn't afford many books and the library was my absolute saving grace. (Luckily I now live near the Strand, a huge bookstore in NYC with great selection of new and used.) Anyway, thank you for coming to hear me. Oh, and as for our Southernness ... I can't exactly say I'm proud of very much of the South's history, and though I don't believe the current generation shares much of the guilt for the system we were born into, I do feel for myself a positive responsibility to keep addressing the questions of how our forebears managed to set up such a cruel and inhumane system. Off the soapbox now -- take care and see you next time - cheers, Mark C.
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